September 18, 2013 - By Joe St. Henry
Special to The Review
Lake Orion's offense took control of the football game early with four touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a convincing 49-12 victory over West Bloomfield last Friday night.
The Dragons' rushing attack was showcased again, as the team gained 239 yards on the ground. Senior Dominick Giovinazzo led a slew of runners with 94 yards and a touchdown, while senior Corey Ester rushed for 66 yards and two scores.
The win moved the Dragons to a 3-0 this season (2-0 OAA Red), with a showdown against the also undefeated Stoney Creek Cougars this week.
Against the Lakers, sophomore Jaylen Wiggins jumpstarted the Dragons' offense by returning the opening kickoff 50 yards into West Bloomfield's territory. It took his teammates only 2:12 to score their first touchdown of the game, with junior Matt Krause rumbling in from four yards out to give Lake Orion the early 7-0 lead.
The Dragons' defense forced a quick punt and their offense was soon marching down the field again. They covered 59 yards in six plays, with senior Chris Leigh scoring on a one-yard rush, increasing the home team's lead to 14-0 less than six minutes into the game.
An unsportsmanlike penalty against West Bloomfield derailed the Lakers next possession. After another punt, Ester and Giovinazzo took turns moving the ball downfield, with Ester scoring on a short run, making it 21-0 with 44 seconds left in the quarter.
The Dragons then pinned the Lakers at their own six yard line and forced yet another punt. Ester returned the ball to the visitor's ten yard line with only seven seconds left in the quarter. That was enough time for Giovianzzo to score, putting Lake Orion in command 28-0.
"Dominick plays hard, he's a tough kid," head coach Chris Bell said. "Last year, he did a lot of work for us in short yardage situations. It's nice to see him be one of our featured guys now."
As efficient as Lake Orion's offense looked in the first quarter, it struggled in the second. After senior defensive back Kyle Bell intercepted the Lakers' quarterback and gave the Dragons excellent field position at the 9:50 mark, the Dragons moved down the field but turned the ball over on a fumble.
The next time Lake Orion had the ball, back-to-back offensive holding penalties stalled the Dragons and led to the team's first punt of the game. The Lakers took the ball with 1:46 left in the half and drove 70 yards to score, making it 28-6 with 18 seconds before halftime.
"Sometimes our toughest opponent is ourselves," Bell said. "When they come to the sidelines, the kids know – they're smart players . We made a few mistakes."
Any momentum the Lakers mustered ended quickly in the third quarter. After yet another West Bloomfield punt, the Dragons' offense got back on track, covering 52 yards in seven plays, capped by Ester's second touchdown run of the game, extending their lead to 35-6.
"That's Corey – any time he touches the ball he is a threat to score," Bell said.
On their next possession the Lakers did put together their best drive of the night, covering 60 yards in 11 plays to make the score 35-12. Lake Orion responded again, however, this time through the air with senior quarterback Connor Grant hitting wide receiver Zach Greene for a 55 yard touchdown. Grant finished 7-12 for 169 yards and one scoring pass.
Up by 36 points, a number of Lake Orion backup players entered the game in the fourth quarter. The Dragons closed out the scoring with four minutes to go, when junior quarterback Cameron Kostiz passed to sophomore wide receiver Drew Casey for a 15 yard touchdown.
In addition to watching several players contribute on offense, Bell said he was pleased with the continuing development of his defense against West Bloomfield.
"They're learning how to play fast and aggressive, but in control," Bell said. "On defense, you have to play together and work as a group."
The head coach said Stoney Creek is probably the toughest opponent Lake Orion will face so far this season, noting the Cougar coaches think this is the best team in the school's history. He said they have a strong running game, having rushed for nearly 300 yards last week in a win over Troy.
" We're going there and I'm sure there will be a big crowd," Bell said. "We've got to get up for the challenge, but we've passed every test so far."